Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery

Article published on 30th July 2008

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Heart Bypass Surgery is more properly known as 'coronary artery bypass surgery', or 'coronary artery bypass graft surgery', and it is a form or surgery performed to relieve the causes and symptoms of angina and of course to reduce the risk of death from heart disease.

The surgery is very serious and is covered by most Critical Illness Insurance policies. The success of the surgery requires that the patient takes time to recover, so it can lead to an extended period off work. In fact the surgery would only be undertaken if the patient's arteries are in a very bad way indeed and so they would already likely be suffering from a recognised critical illness of the heart.

Veins taken from other parts of the body are grafted to the coronary arteries to bypass arteries that have narrowed for whatever reason. This in turn improves the blood supply to the coronary circulation which supplies the hear muscle itself - the myocardium.

The surgery is normally undertaken with the heart stopped (so that the patient doesn't bleed to death), which means a cardiopulmonary bypass will be employed, where the heart is bypassed for blood flow and machines are used instead.

Successful grafts tend to last for about ten to fifteen years, although just how good or bad one's prognosis remains after surgery depends on a variety of factors. Generally speaking, this sort of surgery DOES improve one's chances of survival to those who have already been identified as being at high risk - so those people with angina pain known to be due to ischemic heart disease.

A patient's age at the time of surgery is important to the prognosis, with younger patients who have no other complicating diseases or conditions having a much higher probability of longevity.

Sources:

http://hcd2.bupa.co.uk/fact_sheets/html/con_art_bypass.html

http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/articles/article.aspx?articleId=113#

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